Monday, December 20, 2010

Ten random thoughts on the twentieth

--- When it comes to the sisters Bennett, I am in the Joan column.

--- Robert Ryan confronting the soldier in the bar in Odds Against Tomorrow is about as scary (and satisfying) as it gets.

--- Holmesian acquaintances wince when I tell them my favorite Sherlock Holmes on film is Robert Stephens in Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

--- Rather than his directorial efforts, I prefer Martin Scorsese’s work as film enthusiast, preservationist, historian, and keeper of the flame.

--- I am investigating to find out if Dangerous Crossing with Jeanne Crain has been shown on Fox Movie Channel more times than Cunard’s original Queen Mary crossed the Atlantic.

--- Wandering around Leicester Square some years back, I heard an irate, thirtyish American wife raging at her husband “We did not travel to England to go to the movies.”

--- While my wife and I watched The Keys of the Kingdom last week, I thought of an English film critic, when reviewing a new film, stating that he could feel his fingernails growing.

--- Billy Wilder is my favorite (émigré) American director, but his delirium tremens scene in The Lost Weekend pales compared to that in Jean Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge.

--- Where Danger Lives has astutely commented that Ella Raines’s beauty was rarely captured on film posters -- and it appears to me somewhat the same with her publicity stills.

--- Just once have I been the only person in a theatre -- a noon showing of the fiftieth anniversary edition of Casablanca at a downtown New York theatre toward the end of the run.

Note: “Random thoughts” pieces bring to mind the great Jimmy Cannon, whose “Nobody Asked Me, But” set the form. Any similarity stops there.


  1. Yes, re: Joan, Marty and Billy's big bottle.
    I've never been entirely alone in an auditorium, but I have on two occasions been one of just two spectators, which is perhaps even more disquieting an experience. You start to speculate on what you and that other shadowy figure must have in common for you both to have landed here, when all the world remaining has chosen not to see Mel Brooks's Dracula: Dead & Loving It that afternoon.
    I enjoy Robert Stephens as Holmes very much - until this decade there has rarely been a Holmes I didn't like. Nicol Williamson the least, perhaps. But Cushing the father, Brett the son and Rathbone the spirit remain my holy trinity in this regard...

  2. Thank you Matthew. Rathbone was my generation’s Holmes and your trinity is fine with me. “Disquieting” is just the right word (but for a different reason) for that time I spent alone with “Casablanca.” I kept turning around to see what was behind me.

    I also spent some time around delirium tremens in New York’s Bellevue Hospital in the 1960s with a family member. It was more depressing than the most innovative director might capture -- made more so by occurring in the same location Wilder used. Best. Gerald.